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October 12, 2014: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatic Diseases World Day

10 Oct 2014

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects more than seven million adult Spaniards and costs €4,700 million per year. Of those, 46 percent correspond to healthcare assistance, 22 percent to lost work, 13 percent to hospital admissions, 7 percent to diagnostic tests and 5 percent to drugs. Seven out of every ten OA patients experience adverse symptoms in their everyday activity, and all of them agree that pain and movement difficulties are the factors most affecting their quality of life.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic, inflammatory disease affecting joints. It causes pain, inflammation and can make everyday activities painful and difficult, such as opening and closing ones hands or walking down stairs. The most common symptoms are: pain when moving joints, joint stiffness after a period of rest, numbness or swelling, and cracks or a feeling of friction when performing a motion.

According to the World Health Organization:

-Nearly 28 percent of the worldwide population older than 60 suffers from osteoarthritis. Of those, 80 percent suffer from movement limitations.

-The increase in life expectancy and the aging of the population will make osteoarthritis the fourth most common cause of disability by 2020.

According to the Spanish Society of Rheumatology:

-More than seven million Spaniards older than 20 suffer from knee, hand or spinal osteoarthritis.

-The body parts more prone to suffering osteoarthritis are knees (10.35 percent), hands (6.19 percent) and hips (4 percent).

According to the ArtRoCad study on usage of healthcare resources and the social and economical impact of knee and hip osteoarthritis in Spain:

The average yearly cost of knee and hip osteoarthritis in Spain amounts to €1,502 per patient.

-This supposes for the administration an overall cost of € 4,738 million per year, or 0.5 percent of the Spanish GDP.

Of those, 46 percent correspond to healthcare assistance, 22 percent to lost work, 13 percent to hospital admissions, 7 percent to diagnostic tests and 5 percent to drugs.

-Osteoarthritis patients represent 25 percent of the total patient population served in rheumatologists’ offices. 

According to the guidelines for good clinical practice in osteoarthritis of the Spanish ministry of health and consumer affairs:

-Osteoarthritis is the cause of 35 percent of primary care visits.

It is the cause of more than 30 percent of all work disabilities, both permanent and temporary.

According to the Osteoarthritis Patients national survey, answered by more than 500 Spanish patients:

-Seven out of ten osteoarthritis patients experiences difficulties when carrying out everyday activities.

-96.3 percent of them affirmed that they feel pain and 70.5 percent difficulties to begin everyday activities, such as walking.

-Patients give high qualifications (8 out of 10) to the personal treatment received from medical professionals, although they asked for longer visit times and more diagnostic tests.  

-38.5 percent of surveyed people visit their doctor between two to five times per year. 25.7 percent of them visit their doctor more than five times per year.

-The most commonly used treatments are anti-inflammatory, analgesic and chondroprotector drugs (chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine).

-48.8 percent of patients taking chondroprotector drugs feel notably satisfied by the treatment with regard to pain and mobility improvement, whereas only 36.6 percent of patients not taking them feel notably satisfied.

Specialists recommend first that patients should follow a number of hygienic measures to manage their condition, such as losing weight, eating a balanced diet, using proper shoes, or performing moderate exercise such as walking on flat terrain or in the water.

All these measure may help to improve the conditional symptoms but sometimes, depending on the progression and location of the osteoarthritis, it could be necessary to combine them with drugs. Either anti-inflammatory and/or analgesics during acute phases of the conditions (when pain is more intense) or with chondroprotector drugs (joint protectors such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine) specifically designed for the long term treatment of osteoarthritis. These latter drugs improve pain, mobility and can stop the deterioration of the joint.

For further information on osteoarthritis and rheumatic diseases: